Department of Energy

The Department of Energy oversees nuclear weapons sites and subsidizes conventional and alternative fuels. It has a history of fiscal and environmental mismanagement, and its misguided energy regulations have caused large losses to consumers and the broader economy over the decades.

The department runs 34 subsidy programs, and will spend $32 billion in 2019, or $250 for every U.S. household. It employs 16,000 workers directly and oversees about 100,000 contract workers at research facilities across the nation.

Department of Energy Spending in Billions of Constant Dollars
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  • Energy Subsidies. The department has spent billions of dollars over the decades on dead-end schemes and dubious projects that have often had large cost overruns.
  • Ethanol and Biofuel Policies. The government subsidizes biofuels, such as corn ethanol, and imposes a mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuel. These policies impose costs on taxpayers and motorists, while raising food prices and harming the environment.
  • A Brief History of Energy Regulations. Most federal intrusions into energy markets have been serious mistakes. They have destabilized markets, reduced domestic output, and decreased consumer welfare.
  • Power Marketing Administrations. The federal government owns four power marketing administrations, which transmit electricity from federal hydropower dams.
Timeline of Government Growth
Cato Experts
"All Americans are involved in making energy policy. When individual choices are made with a maximum of personal understanding and a minimum of government restraints, the result is the most appropriate energy policy."

Reagan administration energy plan, 1981

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